Expert's Opinion

Pandering to Mom's Role? Don't.

By Kevin Burke, Lucid Marketing | June 17, 2011

Instead, find out how your product fits into her world, says Kevin Burke.

Over the past several years, we've seen a rising awareness of the importance of mothers as consumers. Once thought to be stereotypical purchasers of products for the home, mothers now are the drivers of most product and service decisions in the U.S., and businesses are recognizing this. From cars to clothing, you'll find a mom whose opinion is paramount to the purchase decision.

Natural market forces are driving this awareness, but so are the marketing agencies and media publications dedicated to marketing to moms. Columns focusing entirely on mothers were a rare find until more recently. Marketing and sales campaigns designed to appeal to moms have improved as a result. Insight and education have led to an appreciation and better understanding of mothers, with less reliance on personal viewpoints and stereotypes.

At the same time, some companies appear to take shortcuts in understanding and reaching out to mothers, and it can materialize in their advertising and marketing messages. Somewhere in the copy the words "as a mom" shows up. "As a mom, wanting ..," "As a mom, you understand ..." Or, the copywriters might believe it has a stronger connection with moms when it delivers messages such as, "All moms want ," "As moms ourselves ...," or "Moms like you ...”

What's happening here? I'll tell you. The campaign's core message likely isn't strong enough to stand on its own and resonate with its target audience of moms. The marketer is trying to compensate for a weak message by indirectly saying, "We get you. We understand what it's like to be a mom." I suspect, however, that they don't. They are attempting to pander to her role, and it does not work.

Mothers are very savvy shoppers. They understand that marketers are competing for their money and attention. They have seen thousands of ads and marketing messages directed at them. They've likely heard about or had experience with multiple instances of poor service, peppered with a few good ones. There are dozens of products that have fallen short of their expectations, and few that they adore.These factors have provided them with acute filters for identifying what deserves their attention. Simply calling out "Mom" isn't enough.And it likely discredits the product or service among the women whom these businesses are trying to connect.

A better approach is needed. Businesses must appeal to her needs and be a solution. To do so, companies must be willing to make an investment in better understanding her world and how a particular product or service fits into it. They also must invest in learning more about the communication styles that appeal to women. I can assure you, they don't start with trite tired and expressions like, "As a mom ..."

About the Author
Kevin Burke founded Lucid Marketing to help brand marketers create and implement marketing programs that connect with moms and MomsWhoBlog, a news journal about mothers active in social media. Through these endeavors, Kevin has worked with Disney, AOL, eHarmony, Boiron and others to build millions of lasting relationships with their customers. He has spoken at the Marketing to Moms Conference, Parent Publishers of America, KidScreen Summit, Word of Mouth Marketing Association, Association of Interactive Marketers, Association of National Advertisers, Association of Advertising Agencies, and Couture Jewelry Collection.Follow him on Twitter

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